Dinosaurios Hechos En México opens in Monterrey (Part 2)… now for real!

7500 visitors in two days can’t be wrong… ! After the preview in my last blog,  we have had the opening of Dinosaurios Hechos En México. As this little photo tour shows,  I think Planetario Alfa and Gondwana Studios have excelled in the set up of this exhibition.20180223_123740_resized03.jpeg05.jpeg

For me, the main aim was to highlight a  the enormous amount  of carefully researched information on Mexican prehistory that most of the Mexican public is not regularly  aware of. There is no arbitrary sampling of dinosaurs here.  Care was taken to name and give credit to all researchers whose discoveries were featured.  Given the circumstances and scope the task was always bound to be incomplete though… but we tried our best to select the elements that would be most popular. And dinosaurs have no competition!  Obviously, the animatronics (as adequate or inadequate as they can be)  and the  trademark of Gondwana Studios (and StoneCo) exhibitions  of adding  playground  sandy areas for children, where they learn to excavate hidden fossil treasures, just add to the popular attraction in the whole.

Casts and fossil material are scarce and difficult to find or borrow.  However,  the murals fill in and interact with the exhibits, guiding you into the world of the main Mexican dinosaurs: Coahuilaceratops (and its animatronic counterpart and skull cast) in its Parras Eden landscape with the hadrosaur Latirhinus.  The Aldama ceratopsoians, Huehuecanauhtlus and Tanycolagreous. Totlmimus and  the (possible) Mexican T. rex.  Agujaceratopattacked by a tyrannosaur and surrounded by nodosaurs and titanosaurs.   We had the fortune to have the skull cast of the best known Mexican hadrosaur Velafrons attacked in the mural by dromeosaurs and given the animatronic treatment too. There is a massive Magnapaulia herd attacked by albertosaurs,  the Parras hadrosaur and the  “Sabinoaurio”. Even Yehuecauhceratops came in two versions: the animatronic one, looking more like Héctor  Rivera-Sylva‘s traditional one, and the mural reconstruction  based on my collaboration with Angel Ramírez.   The contrast of the animatronic tyrannosaur and my own tyrannosaur murals (Labocania with its colourful feathers and  a feathery T. rex against the grey nakedness of its counterpart) couldn’t be more evident here… and is striking. Face to face.  I think it works in a kind of provocative way! Great food-for-thought to tickle the audiences.

If you look carefully even the Mexican heteredontosaur and coelophysid are present. The exhibition harbinger is this fairly well-sized animatronic sauropod (purportedly a titanosaur…) and the exit corridor is surveyed by the only pterosaur of the exhibition.

But what really counts is the public… and the reaction has been massive:  I got news that there were 7500 visitors in only the first weekend. Can we ask for more? The Mexican audiences deserve this and more… impeccable organisation!  Thanks to all of them we can say “mission accomplished!”.

Special thanks to Rosy Bustindui for these great photos…and special thanks also to  Peter Norton of Gondwana Studios and Planetario Alfa that did such great job mounting and printing the murals and making this exhibition a really dignified effort for all the people in Mexico… and at the same time opening an educative space like no other, guiding them right into the enigmatic Mexican Prehistory. Hope to see you all there in October!

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Posted in Casts, ceratopsians, Dinosaur Models, Dinosaurios Hechos En México, Dinosaurs, hadrosaurs, Heterodontosaurs, maniraptora, Mexican Prehistory, Museum Displays, Nodosaur, Ornithischians, ornithomimosaurs, Planetario Alfa, Pterosaurs, Raptors, Sauropods, Theropods, Titanosaurs, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Monumental Distraction… Now finally named: Borealopelta!

nodosaur copy It’s been a while since I do something spiky and scaly… no feathers this time! But I couldn’t resist the temptation: It is not very often there’s a find as this remarkable nodosaur fossil  now at the  Tyrrell Museum, the supreme Dinosaur Mecca  in Alberta, Canada and made public by National Geographic in astounding detail… the carcass, now named as Borealopelta markmitchelli,  originally fell to the bottom of the sea or waterway on its back, but turned  over and with a painstakingly good restoration work   we get an almost life-like gargoyle, a real  snapshot of the animal’s front, fully armoured and looking as if it was alive still! It clarifies a lot about nodosaur armature, and simply  the incredible brightly woven spikes  would be a deterrent.. and a distraction to the odd Acrocanthosaurus, busy following sauropod herds!

It is not the first time I do a spiky one  coloured red… While  Jakob Vinther  fully reaches his conclusions studying melanosome fossilised remains preserved… I picture a reddish handsome devil!nodosaur-fossil-canadian-mine-face.adapt.1900.1

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Proud to present: Dinosaur rEvolution. Secrets of Survival, The Motion Picture. Live in Tasmania!

DSC06702Please click in the links…  Gondwana Studios Exhibitions

The Dinosaur rEvolution – Secrets of Survival Video by the Royal Society of Tasmania

Things are evolving very quickly… these videos  are just the starting point… and there will be more in the future with revised, added material and  a whole bunch of  revamped, updated information.

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More previews from the Kelly Tyrannosaur Project.

Kelly TrixFBAs we can see here… not everything tyrannosaur has to be Tyrannosaurus! This classic scene has been depicted many times…And it should have been an awesome one to watch. Triceratops was once depicted as a mud wrestler by Dr. Bob Bakker.

Mike Kelly has been painstakingly putting together a treaty about Tyrannosaurus that wants to embrace everything: from local environments, to the prey, to the extant contemporary fauna and to the different approaches to recreate the image of the über predator… feathers and no feathers,,,. Obviously after my “conversion” through the discovery of  Yutyrannus, there was no way I could go back to do Tyrannosaurus the way I had done all my life. Parsimony reigns in Palaeontology. We will need now hard evidence to see T. rex naked the way it used too be, even if for some  the acceptance of image transition has been and continues to be very hard. And that has included me and Mike himself… But once you make your mind about the new image and understand why,  the only question for the artist from then on is to make the image believable!  I’m really looking forward to see Mike Kelly’s book finished and published. It’s going to be a real achievement at every possible level. Tyr  rowB

Obviously the one showing the Keratin Revolution was not only T. rex… and Triceratops had to have his whole new make-up too! This time blending the hard evidence of hits skin,  I have used a B&W stripped  pattern that I have used before and curiously makes it blend quite well with the surroundings . Keep plugged in for more on the Keratin Revolution in the not so far future!

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Welcome to Dinosaur Goredom!

The Bite copy 2

I was familiar with a specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex named “Wyrex”  for a long time. Dr. Bob Bakker sent me a few pictures of Wyrex pebbly skin… but nothing else. We were at that time discussing the possibility of T. rex feathers. For me the fragment of the pebbly skin of Wyrex looked almost subcutaneous … but that is not the issue I’m addressing in this post. When I finally saw the mounted skeleton of Wyrex, it left me dumbfounded. I was impressed beyond anything that I have seen since the reconstruction of Deinocheirus:  more than half of the tail was bitten off by another T. rexand Wyrex survived the attack! It’s a horrifying sight indeed… and the simple thought of how that animal not only survived it but managed to balance a heavily unbalanced body got my mind reeling for a long time.  Indeed the worst enemy of T. rex in his environment was… T. rex!

For me the most problematic part of the fossil is the mechanical… how this animal healed such massive stump and could have walked? Was it protected and fed by a group of tyrannosaurs? The trail represents such important device for attaching leg muscles and balancing a horizontal body with a massive head! How the famous “shark on stilts” would have managed?… these seem mere academic questions: it did survive!

 It was time to illustrate it. As pathologies go this must be the most spectacular. Right at this moment I’m working in a project that is taking all my time and that will be the delight of so many dino-gore fans. And unlike empty, phoney dinosaur battles  in the movies, I am going to show  blood, guts and  and harm  in excruciating  detail! … well, more or less! In the next months I will be showing some other material … and I have noticed the wincing of horror in the face of some that have seen some of the pictures… after all we hate seeing our favourite dinosaurs being harmed don’t we? Or perhaps… not?

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rEvolution in Queensland!

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Just a little tour of Gondwana Studious new Dinosaur rEvolution, Secrets of Survival mount in the Museum of Tropical  Queensland… even if the space still doesn’t allow for the full scope and extent of the exhibition, we are getting there little by little! The exhibition continues its merry path all over Australia.

 Museum of Tropical Queensland Exhibitions

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Three Unforgettable Days in Copenhagen…

It all started with Mogens Trolle chairing the important, traditional Danish event Wine and Science … this year inside a much more massive auditorium (250 people at the Christian Hansen Auditorium).  “The True Looks of Dinosaurs” event would be shared  by Jakob Vinther and yours truly… It was a special day at every level: not only the very receptive audience was simply magnificent, but it was also Jakob’s firs conference in Danish with his whole family present!… we talked  about colours in very different terms: scientific discoveries  paired with history lessons and imagination… But also mostly we talked about how the image of dinosaurs has changed our collective perceptions through the years. Monsters? Not anymore.

 

Jacob surprised u with this very fine cast of Sinosauropteryx, finished with an extraordinary “painting” technique that transfers the actual information of the fossil. We really enjoyed the curious and inquisitive nature  of the Danish audience. A privilege talking to them!

 

As planned, next day I landed  at Gondwana Studios  “Dinosaur Familier” that is having yet another unprecedented success at the Geology Museum. A successful drawing marathon session that was the second I’ve done in Denmark over the last two years. I liked to see the progress of many  burgeoning paleo artists and I even had some collaborative games: someone may draw something and I’d finished it!

 

Since it was snowing outside as soon as I finished I revised once again the magnificent exhibition… those  troupes of Protoceratops and Psittacosaurus are so special!… Plus the Tarbosaurus juvenile… and massive adult skull (as admired by Carmen here). But nothing compares to the children’s art being exhibited… great colouring of some of my sketches, but mostly great new, original artwork.

 

The next day, the second marathon sitting and even better! Happy customers, and I got some feedback that I will cherish the rest of my life. Job done. The cast is vast and I don’t have the name of everybody unfortunately… Special thanks for their support  goes to  Mogens Trolle and his team, including our special friends Thomas Bang Holm, Bent Lindow, Cæcilie Ryhl OlssonKatrine Hansen and Marie Rubæk Holm. I’d also like to give special thanks to cinematography ace Anders Drud Jordan and his family, and very specially also Christopher Ries and Lisbeth Petersen.

 

And for those who would like to join us colouring… here are some old samples!

 

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The Next Bone of Contention…

Trex Tri copy 2

Yes, that is what feathering T. rex is becoming! Once again I’m feeling the same as what was happening  in the 80’s and 90’s when several madcaps like some of us  confronted the hard core scientists that claimed they had the hard evidence for dinosaurs NOT being related to birds… after all we did not have any fossilised dinosaur with feathers… at least “dinosaur” by what was considered dinosaur in those days, a motley crew of reptiles unrelated to birds or at best distantly related to them (birds as we know were closer to crocodiles and all those “thecodonts” of old). Now  I hear the same clamor: “we have the hard evidence that T. rex did not have feathers!”… and I answer: perhaps yes…or perhaps not, because even if we have minuscule scaly or bumpy patches (that I have the view they might have been even subcutaneous) of fossilised skin attributed to T. rex from rather dubious or indeterminate  parts of the body, we do also have the fully feathered Dilong, Guanlong and  notoriously the seven meter long Yutyrannus (admiteddly basal tyrannosaurs or proceratosaurs)… The genes of  ancestors can manifest any time anywhere in the subsequent generations… so Evolution, albeit not fossilised skin, is on our side for the time being, at least in the shape of argument!  Same as having Deinonychus and deducting it was an relative of Archaeopteryx, and it might have had feathers (even if we still don’t have hard evidence for them)… never mind, another raptor, the dog-sized Velociraptor  was found with  preserved  knob marks of the feather quills on its arm bones.

Even Thomas Carr and his article  on the distribution of scales in the head of Tyrannosaurus is telling me something different: look at Nature’s reconstruction. There’s a clear delimitation, a sharp contrast  in what the snout scars on the bone is telling us  about external integument . The reconstruction shows two very differentiated types of scales… while I interpret it in a different way: scaly “crocodilian” snout sharply limited by the possible protofeathery rest of the head. Raise eyebrows? Certainly…

 

Imagination overriding evidence?  Dr. Bob Bakker knows a thing or two about predicting and imagining… if not he wouldn’t have asked me to do T. rex feathered for The Big Golden Book Of Dinosaurs, since at the same time he was sending me pictures of the pebbly skin of the famous “Wyrex“… He knew about those minuscule patches of tyrannosaur skin… and it didn’t deter him!

So… I’m still inclined to reconstruct  T. rex with protofeathery stuff… will time prove me right or wrong? Or is it a non-issue like some have argued?  Some have even betted that we, the feathery tyrannosaur people, will be notoriously vanquished at the end. It sounds just as childish as what happened in the 90’s… let’s see who “wins” at the end… but I can tell you that science will always be a winner in these discussions, no matter how childish they might be. For more on that please have a look at Thom Holtz view  in this article

http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/is-the-tyrannosaur-feather-debate-really-over/

And yes, you guess it, the new artwork featured  here is another of my exercises over a classic picture I found in the net… I love to work right on top of mounted skeletons and bring them to life! You can almost hear the crunch of the chance bite of Tyrannosaurus rex over these Triceratops horns!17758272_1372372606215472_6297997436336597342_o copy

And I leave you with some volcanic explosions to lighten your day!                                     Tyr SexB

Posted in Archaeopteryx, Birds, ceratopsians, Raptors, Theropods, tyrannosaurs, Uncategorized, velociraptor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transforming a classic model.

About twenty years ago I was collaborating with the famous Kaiyodo label from Japan, trying to promote their wonderful models here in London. They were so advanced for their time that I really wanted to have them all and customise them according to my own colourful patterns… something that they appreciated so much that meant I started to receive all sort of samples… this was one of my favourites.  A Velociraptor over a vanquished Protoceratops.

Velokaiyodo Old

Unfortunately Palaeontology has been changing at a vertiginous pace in these last twenty years… I had never dared to touch this model in particular, because among other things it would have meant to remodel the arms and specially: add the corresponding feathers! I must admit I’m not the greatest model customiser… but when I appreciate something I can only pay tribute to it doing my best to enhance and modernise it accordingly. The Kaiyodo models have proved durable and sometimes timeless… what to do?

Using Milliput  is a rather lousy clay substitute… but it was all that I had at hand. I discovered that feathers could dissimulate some of the inadequacies of the old-fashioned construction of the arms and hands and actually remodelled it. Sometimes feather by feather… same happened with the tail!

 

After the modelling came the paint… and I just followed my original pattern, the same I have use all these years for Velociraptor. I like to keep things personal

 

 

So here it is … finally revamped, update and its in its rightful place… With modelling and customising, fun never stops… Pure enjoyment!DSC05297

 

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And Now… Monterrey, México!

20180223_123740_resized.jpgFor those who have seen them this might not be come as a surprise, but the spectacular way Planetario Alfa in Monterrey and Gondwana Studios are mounting the Mexican Dinosaurs murals, is really a surprise even to me! 20180223_123818_resized

The great opening of Mexican Dinosaurs will be  the 10th of March. It is the product of our efforts this last year, finally on monumental display! There’s going to be more to it that simply the murals… loads of accurate, detailed  information rigorously consulted with some of Mexico’s top palaeontologists.  It will show also some skeletal material and animatronics, but  in the meantime Rosy Bustindui, Manager of Museography from the Planetario Alfa has graciously sent us these sampling pictures of how the massive murals are being mounted.20180223_123939_resized

I bet René Hernández, Angel Ramírez Velasco and Ricardo Servín Pichardo are also going to be pleased. Will have more news and pictures as the exhibition is set and finally completely unveiled… in the meantime: Thank you  Planetario Alfa… outstanding job! We will all see you there in October for what promises to be a good talk.

Posted in Mexican Prehistory, Museum Displays, Planetario Alfa, Proto-mammals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment